by Nicole Harmon of Hair Liberty

Between washes your hair gets drier each day, the strands start to wrap around each other, and the volume starts to go to “the bad place”. Your basic conditioner has one very important job to do and that’s to make your hair smooth and easy to detangle. That’s because coils and curls experience the least damage from combing when they’re wet and saturated with conditioner. Once your hair has been thoroughly combed out, it’ll be easier to achieve your final style.

Conditioners that effectively detangle coils and curls contain:

• Emollients, which are conditioning ingredients that form a protective film on the hair to help your strands slide past each other as you detangle
• Cationic ingredients to condition your hair’s cuticle

Emollients that offer good slip (the more of these in the top 5 the better):

• Dimethicone
• Cyclomethicone
• Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
• Mineral Oil
• Shea Oil
• Jojoba Oil
• Jojoba Esters
• Sorbitol Esters
• Cetyl Esters
• Cetyl Alcohol (don’t worry these are not the drying kinds of alcohol)
• Cetearyl Alcohol
• Stearyl Alcohol

Cationics Conditioners:

• Amodimethicone
• Behentrimonium Chloride
• Behentrimonium Methosulfate
• Cetrimonium Chloride
• Cetrimonium Methosulfate
• Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
• Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine

Conditioning Do’s and Don’ts

Do saturate your hair with conditioner from root to tip.
Don’t ignore the inner layers of your hair. Distribute the conditioner as evenly as you would a relaxer.
Do comb the conditioner through before you rinse it out.
Don’t leave the conditioner on for longer than the maximum time in the instructions. The ingredients in rinse out conditioners are not meant to be left in contact with your skin for long periods of time.
Do comb out your hair by starting at the ends and working your way up to the roots. If you start from the roots, you’ll cause your ends to wrap around each other which can lead to more tangles.

Is your conditioner a keeper? If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions after using a conditioner, go ahead and buy the largest bottle you can find. Conditioner is the product you will go through the fastest.

1) Did the comb glide through your hair as you detangled? You haven’t found your conditioner match until you can comb through all of your hair within 5 minutes.
2) Was the conditioner easy to apply? You have to condition every inch of every hair to get the best results. Choose a product that comes out of the bottle easily because that’s a good indication that it’ll be easy to spread and distribute.

Recommended Conditioners

BARGAIN BUY – Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner, $6 for 25 oz.
Available at drugstores
You read that right, $6 for 25 ounces of conditioner. This conditioner has good slip, it spreads easily, and it contains a special “copolymer” that will help your hair retain moisture. It’s a great place to start if you’re on a tight budget.

Dove Damage Therapy Nourishing Oil Care Daily Treatment Conditioner, $6 for 8 oz.
Available at drugstores
Dove’s Damage Therapy conditioner is filled with ingredients that will help you detangle. It’s relatively thick, so an 8 oz. bottle may not last very long.

John Frieda Full Repair Full Body Conditioner, $6 for 8.45 oz.
Available at drugstores
This product smoothes and detangles the hair without being too heavy. That’s a difficult combination to find in a drugstore conditioner. Some stores also sell a 20 oz. size that comes with a pump, which is helpful when you have a lot of hair to work through.

Free Your Mane Daily Detangling Conditioner, $16 for 10.14 oz.
Available at
This conditioner spreads easily and has enough slip to get through stubborn tangles. It also has extra ingredients that give lasting shine and smoothness to the hair.

Joico Smooth Cure Conditioner, $14 for 10.1 oz.
Available at beauty supply stores and online
The Joico Smooth Cure conditioner and the matching shampoo make a worthwhile combo for coils and curls that get heat-styled every week. The conditioner has a combination of emollients, cationics, and hydrolyzed keratin, so it also qualifies as a deep treatment.

Nicole Harmon is a Cosmetic Chemist and the Founder of She has received rave reviews for her seminars on ethnic hair education and science. She’s on a mission to help the Product Junkies of the world save MONEY, sort through marketing HYPE and buy SMARTER! 
Hair Liberty (def.): The freedom to rock whatever style you want, whenever you want. Curly, straight, natural, relaxed, whatever! Free yourself!
What’s your favorite slippery conditioner?